Managing nerves, anxiety, and burnout | Jonny Miller (Nervous System Mastery)

Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career

Jan 28 2024 • 1 hr 14 mins

Jonny Miller is the founder of Nervous System Mastery, a course that has helped hundreds of founders and tech leaders cultivate calm, reduce nervousness, enhance resilience, and elevate their sense of aliveness. Having personally benefited from Jonny’s teachings, I’m especially excited to have him on the show. In this episode, we discuss:

• How shifting your focus from the mind to the body can help ease nervousness

• The power of breath in changing states

• The importance of “interoception”

• Specific breathing exercises to both calm and excite your nervous system

• The A.P.E. (awareness, posture, and emotion) framework for recognizing body signals

• The “feather, brick, dump truck” phenomenon

• The concept of emotional debt and how to release it

• The competitive advantage of feeling emotions

Jonny’s five-week boot camp, Nervous System Mastery, will equip you with evidence-backed protocols to cultivate greater calm and agency over your internal state. Learn to rewire maladaptive stress responses and improve your sleep (use code LENNY for $250 discount). Apply here.

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In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Jonny’s background

(07:19) The bottom-up approach to nervousness and anxiety

(09:42) The power of breath in changing states

(11:47) The concept of state over story

(13:56) Personal experiences with nervousness

(15:01) Breathing exercises to calm you down

(20:40) The “espresso” breath exercise to give you energy

(25:44) Interoception and the A.P.E. framework

(34:47) The “feather, brick, dump truck” phenomenon

(37:40) Recognizing emotional debt and avoiding burnout

(40:47) Using somatic-oriented therapy for healing

(45:26) Telltale signs of emotional debt

(48:13) The competitive advantage of “feeling the feels”

(50:20) Advice for people overwhelmed by stimuli

(52:36) The NSDR (non-sleep deep rest) practice for emotional release

(55:38) Daily practices for emotional well-being

(58:23) Thoughts on meditation

(01:01:26) The Body Keeps the Score

(01:01:58) Contrarian corner

(01:04:43) Lightning round

Jonny’s If [This] Then [Breathe] Recipes:

• If [overwhelmed], then [hum]

• If [anxious], then [breath of calm]

• If [lethargic], then [espresso breath]


• The Operating Manual for Your Nervous System:

• Afferent vs. Efferent Neurons:

• Insular cortex:

• Jonny’s TED Talk, “The gifts of grief”:

• Humming (Simple Bhramari Pranayama) as a Stress Buster: A Holter-Based Study to Analyze Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Parameters During Bhramari, Physical Activity, Emotional Stress, and Sleep:

• 14-Minute Guided NSDR (non-sleep deep rest) practice:

• Breathing Techniques to Reduce Stress and Anxiety | Dr. Andrew Huberman on the Physiological Sigh:

• Interoception: the hidden sense that shapes well-being:

• Exteroception:

• Interoceptive Awareness and ADHD:

• Childhood Trauma Affects Stress-Related Interoceptive Accuracy:

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: How Risk Taking Transforms Us, Body and Mind:

• Somatic Experiencing:

• Hakomi Institute:

• Decisions and Desire (about Antonio Damasio’s work):

• When enough is enough | Andy Johns (ex-FB, Twitter, Quora):

• What Is Yoga Nidra?:

• Becoming Fully Yourself, What AI Wants, Family Rituals & Rites of Passage, with Kevin Kelly:

• Tim Ferriss:

• The Power of Sensations: Intermediate’s Vipassana Body Scan:

• Vipassana Meditation:

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma:

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma:

Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words:

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success:

• The Conscious Leadership Group:

Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex, and Death in a World That’s Lost Its Mind:

Kubo and the Two Strings on Prime Video:

Wolfwalkers on AppleTV+:

Scavengers Reign on Max:

• Jerry Colonna on LinkedIn:

• Ra Optics “Sunset” blue-light blockers:

• Nurosym vagal stimulation device:

• Pulsetto vagal stimulation device:

• Apollo vagus nerve stimulator:

Additional research:

• Cellular allostatic load is linked to increased energy expenditure and accelerated biological aging:

• Somatic experiencing: using interoception and proprioception as core elements of trauma therapy:

• Relationship between interoception and emotion regulation: New evidence from mixed methods:

• Out-of-the-blue panic attacks aren’t without warning: body sends signals for hour before:

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